A multi-billion naira case of corruption has been uncovered in the National Examinations Council, documents Total News24 has learnt.
The case involved the award of contracts without following due process by the past management of the examination council.
Those specifically accused of involvement in the corruption saga are the immediate past Acting Registrar of NECO, Abubakar Gana, his Special Assistant, one Ibrahim Peter Alih, as well as Chairman of the Governing Board of council, Dr Abubakar Sadeeq.
Also accused of having a hand in the corruption matter is the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny T. Echono.
Echono is precisely accused of providing tacit support for the officials of NECO to perpetrate corruption using his position as a very senior officer in the Ministry charged with the responsibility of supervising NECO.
Total News24 gathered that the indefinite suspension of the former Registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe on May 10, 2018 provided Echono the opportunity to closely interfere in the procurement process of the examination council using Alih as his proxy.
The source said the Permanent Secretary and Sadeeq facilitated the appointment of Alih as the Special Assistant to Gana.
“The staff of NECO are now expressing disappointment with the fact that Echono and the Chairman of the Governing Board have equally imposed Alih on the new Registrar, Prof Godswill Obioma, thereby making it practically impossible for him to operate freely as the Chief Executive Officer of the council.
“Following series of petitions by some staff of NECO on the monumental act of corruption perpetrated by the Acting Registrar, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit and the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation have launched massive investigations into the corruption in NECO, and Echono is also said to have been making overtures to the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, who are his contemporaries/colleagues in the federal civil service and members of the Service Wide, to suppress the investigations. PICA is under the supervision of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties).
“In the two years that he held sway as the Acting Registrar, Gana awarded contracts to companies recommended to him by the Permanent Secretary and Chairman of the governing board as well as those close to him in a blatant abuse of due process and all known extant laws and financial regulations.
“For instance, with the active support of the permanent secretary and the NECO Board Chairman, Gana refused to set up a Procurement Planning Committee after the dissolution of the one he inherited,” the source said.
Total News24 gathered that the former Acting Registrar also refused to advertise contracts in the Federal Tenders Journal and two national newspapers for competitive biddings to take place, as stipulated by the Public Procurement Act 2007.
Rather, he opted for Direct Procurement Method and Emergency Procurement Method, practices which NECO was not entitled to engage in.
This fact was stated by the Bureau of Public Procurement in its letter to NECO, dated July 30, 2019, with reference number BPP/S.1/SP/19/Vol.I/375.
In the letter, the BPE stated that by virtue of the preconditions listed in Sections 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act 2007, NECO has not been exempted from ensuring that the practice of bidding takes place before awarding contracts.